Minnesota Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

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Kosieradzki Smith pursues punitive damages for nursing home narcotic overdose

By Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm

December 21, 2016

Joel E. Smith is an attorney with the Kosieradzki Smith Law FirmThis past Monday morning, Joel Smith was in court in Austin, Minnesota, pursuing a punitive damages claim against the St. Mark’s Lutheran Home nursing home.  The case involves an overdose of Fentanyl (a potent narcotic). The nurse who caused the overdose testified that she had not been trained or supervised on the administration of Fentanyl.

The motion hearing was covered by the Austin Herald, which reported: “The plaintiff’s attorney, Joel Smith, however, insisted the home had a ‘systemic and continuous disregard for [the resident]’s safety while she was entrusted to the defendant’s care.'”

St. Mark’s own expert witness in the case states that St. Mark’s administered a fatal narcotic overdose to the resident and that timely administration of Narcan would have reversed the effects of the narcotic overdose and saved her life.  St. Mark’s had Narcan in its emergency medication kit at the time the resident was suffering the Fentanyl overdose, but St. Mark’s did not use it.

Medicare rates nursing homes throughout the United States, based on “Star Rating categories”, including the nursing’s overall rating and rating based on health inspections. Medicare has issued a “Below Average” rating to St. Mark’s for its “overall rating” and a “Much Below Average” rating (the lowest possible) based on the government’s health inspections of St. Mark’s. In its most recent health inspection, completed October 2, 2015, the government issued 15 health deficiency citations, more than double the average number of health deficiencies issued to nursing homes in Minnesota (6.7) and nationally (7.2).

The government cited St. Mark’s for the following health deficiencies in the October 2015 inspection:

  • Failing to 1) make sure that each resident’s drug regimen is free from unnecessary drugs; 2) each resident’s entire drug/medication is managed and monitored to achieve highest well being. 19, at p. 4. (The government also cited St. Mark’s for this same health deficiency 9 months earlier in January 2015.)
  • Failing to safely provide drugs and other similar products available, which are needed every day and in emergencies, by a licensed pharmacist.
  • Failing to have a licensed pharmacist review each resident’s medication(s) at least once a month and report any irregularities to the attending doctor.
  • Failing to maintain drug records and properly mark/label drugs and other similar products according to accepted professional standards.
  • Failing to 1) hire only people with no legal history of abusing, neglecting or mistreating residents; or 2) report and investigate any acts or reports of abuse, neglect or mistreatment of residents.
  • Failing to develop policies that prevent mistreatment, neglect, or abuse of residents or theft of resident property.
  • Failing to provide necessary care and services to maintain the highest well being of each resident. Id. (The government also cited St. Mark’s for this same health deficiency 9 months earlier in January 2015.)
  • Failing to give residents proper treatment to prevent new bed (pressure) sores or heal existing bed sores.
  • Failing to develop policies and procedures for influenza and pneumococcal immunizations.
  • Failing to give or get specialized rehabilitative services per the patient’s assessment or plan of care.
  • Failing to conduct initial and periodic assessments of each resident’s functional capacity. Id. (The government also cited St. Mark’s for this same health deficiency 9 months earlier in January 2015.)
  • Failing to provide care for residents in a way that keeps or builds each resident’s dignity and respect of individuality.
  • Failing to Listen to the resident or family groups or act on their complaints or suggestions.
  • Failing to make sure that the nursing home area is free from accident hazards and risks and provides supervision to prevent avoidable accidents.

These health deficiencies resonate with the health deficiencies that the government cited against St. Mark’s in April 2014, just six months before fatal narcotic overdose.  The government cited St. Mark’s for the following health deficiencies in the April 2014 inspection:

  • Failing to provide activities to meet the interests and needs of each resident.
  • Failing to provide care by qualified persons according to each resident’s written plan of care.
  • Failing to make sure that residents receive treatment/services to not only continue, but improve the ability to care for themselves.
  • Failing to assist those residents who need total help with eating/drinking, grooming and personal and oral hygiene. Id., at 8. (The government also cited St. Mark’s subsequently for this repeat health deficiency 9 months later in January 2015.)
  • Failing to give residents proper treatment to prevent new bed (pressure) sores or heal existing bed sores.
  • Failing to have enough nurses to care for every resident in a way that maximizes the resident’s well being.
  • Failing to develop a complete care plan that meets all of a resident’s needs, with timetables and actions that can be measured.
  • Failing to make sure that the nursing home area is free from accident hazards and risks and provides supervision to prevent avoidable accidents.
  • Failing to have a program that investigates, controls and keeps infection from spreading.
  • Failing to 1) review the work of each nurse aide every year; and 2) give regular in-service training based upon these reviews.

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes like the St. Mark’s Lutheran Home and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.